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Because Critical Mass takes place without an official route or sanction, participants practice a tactic known as "corking" in order to maintain the cohesion of the group. This tactic consists of a few riders blocking traffic from side roads so that the mass can freely proceed through red lights without interruption. Corking allows the mass to engage in a variety of activities, such as circling in an intersection, or lifting their bikes in a tradition known as a Chicago hold-up. The 'Corks' sometimes take advantage of their time corking to distribute flyers.
Critics argue that the practice of corking roads in order to pass through red lights as a group is contrary to Critical Mass' claim that "we are traffic", since ordinary traffic (including bicycle traffic) does not usually have the right to go through intersections once the traffic signal has changed to red, unless issued with a specific permit or residing in jurisdictions where bicyclists have this right (such as the Idaho, USA Bicycle Law ). Corking has sometimes translated into hostility between motorists and riders, even erupting into violence and arrests during Critical Mass rides.
- ↑ Idaho Statutes http://www3.state.id.us/cgi-bin/newidst?sctid=490070020.K
- ↑ Bicyclists arrested at Critical Mass get out of jail, 2006-07-03, http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/276237_sheriff03.html